When you hire a lawyer, you are speaking to the only person in the world whom you can say anything, and that person has a legal duty to not pass on the information to the outside world. No matter how bad that evidence may be, that lawyer has a duty to assist you with respect to the legal ramifications. Moreover, generally when you hire a lawyer, it is because something in your life implicates complex laws, so it is in your best interest to have the lawyer know everything, so that the lawyer’s advice is tailored perfectly to assist you to the maximum amount allowed by law. Thus, we are left to ponder the devastating nature of the evidence seized by the FBI, from Michael Cohen, given that neither Trump, nor Cohen, will tell their lawyers what that evidence might be.
NYT’s Michael Schmidt: Trump lawyers are nervous about the New York case because neither Trump nor Cohen will say what they think is in the papers taken in the raids of Cohen’s home, hotel, and office.#BREAKING pic.twitter.com/kDwX8ZzbBN
— Maddow Blog (@MaddowBlog) May 3, 2018
The only reasons that I can think of, the few things that would “make sense” in such a situation, are all – shock – really bad, for Trump and his legal team.
Let me run down the list of possible justification for withholding such critical information, beginning – and I cannot stress this strongly enough – with a huge word of caution, that each of the following “reasons” are pure speculation on my part. Though, in my defense, it is speculation based upon over 20 year in law practice, common sense, and understanding the Trump dynamic, and thus “fair” in my opinion. Nonetheless, it is all speculation.
One, the evidence demonstrates that Trump and Cohen (likely just Trump) has been lying to his own legal team all along, which would implicitly include an admission of guilt with it. More pragmatically, it would likely cause his legal team to feel betrayed, all that work for nothing, sincere belief in their client, statements made in good faith in their good name? All due to lies by the client? It would be unusual for a legal team to not quit in mass, creating a public relations fiasco while at it. If all, or a good portion, of Trump’s legal team quit in mass, it would be akin to red-flashing light “The mother fffffkker is guilty as hell, guiltier than I thought, and I can’t work for him anymore because he even lies about what he’s guilty about.” That’s one.
Two, the evidence demonstrates criminality of the type that dissuades even the most hardened criminal lawyers from wanting to “vigorously support you.” It is possible that if there is evidence that Trump very actively colluded with Russia to defraud the country, including possible vote tampering and such, it would only be a “human” response to not want to work “quite so hard” to ensure that your client, who happens to also be your president, “gets off” and remains president of your nation. The crimes in this category get worse, too, and I am going out on a limb and will put in all caps – THIS IS ALL SPECULATION – Trump was long-involved in “Ms. Teen Universe” stuff, and teen modeling agencies, Cohen was involved with “cab companies” and other sundry businesses, if these young teen girls were offered up as sexual abuse victims – child prostitution – that would be the type of crime that ANY criminal would be highly reluctant to share information about with their attorney until such time as charges were laid out. I repeat, that is SPECULATION ONLY.
Last, and I put this last because it can be a part of any of the above, a lawyer cannot knowingly let her client put his hand on a Bible and swear to tell the truth and then stand-by and idly watch that client lie. We just can’t. If we see such an event about to take place, it is our ethical duty to immediately stop the proceeding, approach the bench, and forthrightly inform the judge that “I believe my client is about to lie,” or “I must report that I know my client just perjured himself before the court,” and let the judge handle the fall-out, usually a mistrial and appointment of another attorney. It happens every day, no matter how unethical you have heard attorneys to be, I can unequivocally state that tomorrow an attorney will approach the judge and inform the court that her client just lied. So, if Trump and Cohen have – as part of their long-term plans – the intent to lie their asses off at any needed point along the way, even under oath, they would not want their lawyer knowing, and it is possible that the evidence the FBI possesses demonstrates that they will lie. Of course, the strategy makes no sense since they would get caught in a lie, but – funny thing about criminals, they are A) poor planners, generally, and B) often think they can talk their way out of anything.
It is not unusual for lawyers to worry that their clients aren’t telling the entire truth. Hell, it is not unusual to know that there is more to the story. But, those feelings generally arise early in the process, when the allegations are just coming about, when the attorney doesn’t have the police report, and all clients are innocent, at least at first, according to them. It is HIGHLY unusual for the government to raid a client’s home, business, whatever, and collect a bunch of shit, have everyone on Earth know that the FBI/NSA will have examined everything down to the one’s and zeros on the computer, have the attorneys say to the clients “What do they have? What do we need to prepare for?” Only to be met with silence. In effect, the client saying, “you don’t want to know.”
Honestly, I’ve only had something similar happen once, and only once in my career, and in THAT instance, it did involve the worst, evidence of child sexual abuse (this is all still SPECULATION AS APPLIED TO TRUMP. Another thing that I can honestly say, whenever a client has had something favorable in his possession, something that helps him, that client will call you at home, at 10:00 p.m. to tell you about it, waking your wife and the dog. And, it almost never exonerates them to the extent they believe it does.
It has been quite a day. We have heard that Trump ordered a raid to steal medical records, we heard that Trump lied to the nation (again) and ordered the payment of Stormy Daniels in an almost-surely illegal manner, we learned that Mueller had to threaten to subpoena a sitting president and now we learn this. Honestly, and I am fighting to not be overly dramatic here, this little detail is disturbing that part of my brain that attempts to compartmentalize things so as I can function another day, knowing that Trump is president, far more than the others. Something is very very wrong here. We knew it by the doe in the headlights look in Trump’s eye when he heard of the raid. It is only getting worse.